Dr. Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee, told the Chattanooga Rotary Club on Thursday afternoon, "We need to increase the rate of high school graduates who head to college."
This is a part of one of the five major goals he has set for the university system and its campuses across the state.
He said, "We have to be able to measure things, to figure out if we're moving the dials.
This goal, enhancing educational excellence, includes increasing the graduation rates of current college students.
He said, "By 2015, we hope to be at 57.6 percent."
Another part of this goal is making it easier for students at community colleges to transfer to a four-year school after two years if they would like to earn a bachelor's degree.
His second goal is to expand research capacities. According to the University of Tennessee land grant, research performed at the university must go toward providing solutions that enhance life.
He described some of the current studies, which include alternative vehicle research, such as research on extended range electric buses.
His third goal is to continue improving outreach and engagement. He said he wanted the university to connect with more civic as well as state organizations.
He said over the past few years, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has worked with the university to develop a training program for their agents.
Dr. DiPietro said, "This a great partnership between a state agency and our university, and we need to continue to foster these kinds of programs."
As another part of the outreach goal, he also pointed out that the university system needed to increase fundraising programs so it could become "less dependent on state appropriations."
He said, "Fundraising will become more and more important to us in the future."
He said the fourth goal is to continue ensuring effectiveness and efficiency. He described vital university programs that can only work because of donors.
He said, "Donors make education possible."
Dr. DiPietro's final goal is to continue advocating for the University of Tennessee.
He told the club, "We do a whole lot of advocacy in Nashville."
He said, "The advocacy program is very strong because of our connectivity across the state."
He also mentioned that social media had played a huge part in this throughout recent years, as it allows people everywhere to get involved. He said now more than ever state politicians do not only hear from university officials, but also from residents concerned about the future of the university system.